Toshizou Hijikata, co-captain of the Shinsengumi

Image source

I enjoyed the first two seasons of Hakuouki, a series based on an otome game about the Shinsengumi (a group of samurai in the Bakumatsu period, about the same time as the American Civil War). In addition to the two seasons of the TV series, an OVA series is being released with side stories. As I watched the first episode, I realized that once again the OP is a rather nice song by Aika Yoshioka. Aika has sung the OP for all three components of the animated series (as well as the various OP for the games) and I have linked to the OPs for seasons one and two in the past, but now that the new OP is out, I thought I would collect all three anime OP here so those interested can enjoy them.

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Hakuouki 18 – carnage

November 24, 2010

Really nice texture on the hills in the upper-left.

Bad things happen. The story of the Shinsengumi could never have ended in triumph. Bad things had to happen. Well, bad things happen in episode 18 of Hakuouki Hekketsu-Rokku). I won’t discuss the tragic events. Instead my remarks are directed towards the artwork. When the first season began, there were some who doubted Studio DEEN would follow through, and that quality would drop late in the (first) season. My experience is just the opposite. I believe the consistency has been improved in the second season, so what had been a handful of really striking images per episode, are now more the norm.
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Hakuouki 17 – Yamato spirit

November 13, 2010

Hijikata leads the attack on Utsunomiya Castle.

Episode 17 of Hakuouki primarily relates the events surrounding the unsuccessful attack on Utsunomiya Castle. The Shinsengumi are breaking up, but Hijikata vows to struggle on for the sake of his men. Unfortunately he bears not only responsibility for the remaining Shinsengumi, but also the curse of rasetsu, and the enmity of Chikage.

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Their boss is the Green Pheasant.

This post contains remarks about Yakuza, manga authors, and the Shinsengumi. Arakawa under the Bridge^2 episode 5, Bakuman episode 6, and Hakuouki Hekketsu-Roku episode 16.

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Heisuke pounds a few bottles.

Hakuouki episode 15 (Hakuouki Hekketsu-Roku) principally covers the Shinsengumi escape from the Rasetsu warriors created by Koudou, and Chizuru’s further discoveries about the secrets of the Yukimura clan. We also say good-bye to more Shinsengumi members.

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Hakuouki Hekketsu-Roku 14 is probably the best episode produced for the series yet (in either season). Essentially the situation for the pro-shogun forces, led by the Shinsengumi, is plunged into worse and worse situations right up until the final scene. There were several remarkable action sequences, some pathos, and even a shocking conclusion. Since this episode was awesome, it includes an unusually large number of screen captures.

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The Shinsengumi are back - with new uniforms.


Season two of Hakuouki (Hakuouki Hekketsu-Roku) has begun. I’ll follow the convention of numbering the episodes as continuous to season 1, hence this first episode is episode 13. Being the first episode of the new season, this was mostly a setting things up episode.
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Todou looks demonically posessed in his new character design.

Hakuouki Season 2 is coming in October, and a couple of details have already been promoted. A hand-cam recording of the trailer is on YouTube, and character designs for 6 of the principle characters has been released. This post just shows the new character designs, and points you to online resources for more.

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Fall 2010 Plans

August 15, 2010

I never write up comprehensive previews of upcoming seasons (let alone with a quill pen), I like to leave that sort of thing to those more knowledgeable, so take a look at the Star-Crossed Anime Review, for a thoughtful and comprehensive write up of the season. For those more visually oriented, He Who Propels the Cart Forward has prepared a chart for at-a-glance consultation. Instead I merely want to convey my plans regarding Fall 2010 anime viewing/blogging.

First the shows I’ll be blogging:

  1. Arakawa Under the Bridge X Bridge. The first season was very fun and I’m hoping this second season will deal directly with the lingering question of Nino’s background (mental stability).
  2. Hakuouki 2. Historical drama with fantasy extras. The Shinsengumi have retreated from Kyoto at the start of the Boshin War.
  3. Bakuman. I’ve been looking forward to this since Sapphire Pyro recommended it as a story about people pursuing a career.

These shows didn’t make the above list because three shows is enough, but did show potential:

  • Iron Man. Definitely will be reading reviews as they come out in hopes that this turns out well.
  • Kuragehime. I’m behind on my Noitamina series. I’m working on a Paradise Kiss review, and after that I want to pick up Tatami Galaxy again, so this one is going to have to wait.
  • Soredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru. I like the girl in love with mystery angle, but am burnt out on maid cafes.

Chizuru tells it like it is.

Episode 12 is the final episode of season 1 of Hakuouki. Unfortunately for the Shinsengumi, whose situation has been deteriorating over the past few episodes, things get dramatically worse. The distribution of modern weaponry amongst their enemies increases, and the oni prove to be even more powerful. On top of this, former allies are switching sides, and the Shogun has abandoned them, having fled to Edo.

The Shinsengumi have no match for modern weapons.

In summation, I enjoyed this series, which met my expectations in terms of consistently good, if not great artwork, and really interesting history. The pacing seemed well handled, building for most of the series towards this final episode, which featured probably the best fight sequence of the series. As expected, the focus of the series was less on the swordplay itself, and more upon the political instability that characterized the period, and the tragic stand of the Shinsengumi against the changing times. I also thought the ending was pretty good, given that a second season has been promised for the Fall.

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